It’s been 10 years since Eric Bachmann’s last “solo album,” To The Races. Included in that collection of masterful songwriting was “Man O War,” which I had the pleasure of witnessing live at a Cooked Fingers show at TT’s back in 2011. Though I respected Archers of Loaf as a seminal band of the ’90s, I was never very familiar with their deeper catalog. My appreciation for the heartfelt singing and songwriting of Eric Bachmann was solely due to his musical forays as a solo artist and with Crooked Fingers. On Bachmann’s new album (released March 25 on Merge Records), he continues his introspective and heart-tugging compositions, though perhaps from a somewhat older and even more contemplative perspective.
“Kill your idols and your fables
take your weapons off the table
it’s only mercy now, that you need in your world
lay your burdens on my shoulders
for a while until it’s over
I’m going to love you like we’re all each other have.
Are we seeing a more peaceful, more resigned Eric Bachmann as he approaches middle age? Not quite.
“But don’t you dare believe them
when they try to tell you everything happens for a reason
because it doesn’t mean a goddamn thing
there’s chaos in the violins
and it’s so insensitive to claim
when there are those who suffer
suffer for no reason every day.”
Here’s a man grappling with life and love and fate and the concept of destiny, not quite accepting, at least not at face value, any of it. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. In the end, and it’s pretty corny but ultimately true, love really does conquer all. And that’s despite everything not being perfect. As for those idols and fables, they help us cope with the seemingly impossible to take on board. Like those unfathomable truths of death and loss. I have a feeling he’d be the last one to say he has the answers, but he definitely has some valuable insights to share, and he does so without preaching or casting judgement, as one would with a close friend.
“Carolina,” another song from the new album, makes the heart swell with sentimental regret and longing, Bachmann’s warmly caressing vocals making the song instantly personal, before you even know what he’s singing about. It’s an extraordinary gift.
In a recent session for the A.V. Club, Bachmann performed a gorgeous acoustic version of “Dreaming” (also on the new album) with a string quartet.
Bachmann will be touring with a 5-piece band beginning on April 13 in Athens, Georgia and winding down on June 5 in San Diego. He’ll be performing in tiny clubs, which is exactly the type of place where you want to hang out and share life’s experiences with a trusted comrade.
04/13 — Athens, GA — 40 Watt
04/15 — Arlington, VA — IOTA Club & Cafe
04/16 — Carrboro, NC — Cat’s Cradle Back Room
04/17 — Asheville, NC — Mothlight
04/19 — Portsmouth, NH — The Music Hall Loft
04/20 — Pawtucket, RI — The Met Cafe
04/21 — Cambridge, MA — Lizard Lounge
04/22 — Philadelphia, PA — Johnny Brenda’s
04/23 — Brooklyn, NY — The Bell House
05/06 — Grand Rapids, MI — Pyramid Scheme
05/07 — Chicago, IL — Schubas
05/20 — Seattle, WA — Sunset Tavern
05/21 — Portland, OR — Mississippi Studios
06/03 — San Francisco, CA — The Chapel
06/04 — Los Angeles, CA — Bootleg Theater
06/05 — San Diego, CA — Soda Bar